Biodynamic New Zealand Pinot Noir With an Old World Flair

Today’s Story: Quartz Reef Wines

Quartz Reef is a relatively small winery established in Bendigo in the Central Otago region of New Zealand. The winery is named for its vineyards being planted on the largest quartz deposit in New Zealand, with the vines planted in 1998 and their first Pinot Noir bottled in 2001. Quartz Reef is known for their Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Methode Traditionnelle, however winemaker Rudi Bauer crafts small amounts of Chardonnay and Grüner Veltliner as well. In 2007, Quartz Reef started transitioning to biodynamic viticulture and today is one of only six New Zealand wineries certified biodynamic by Demeter. Rudi makes all his wines following traditional methods through minimal intervention in the cellar, attempting to showcase the fruit and terroir in the most natural way possible while marrying Old World and New World characteristics.

To learn more and view photos of the estate (and the winemaking puppies), visit the Quartz Reef website here.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14% ABV

The 2017 Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir is pale to medium ruby in color and almost opaque. I let this blossom in the glass for about 30-45 minutes, with the incredibly Burgundian nose showcasing aromas of black cherry, plum, black raspberry, leather, smoked game meat, barnyard, forest floor, gravel, and light oak. The palate kicks off with a very similar fruit profile to the nose with black cherry, plum, and brambly strawberry before branching into notes of violet, tobacco, damp loamy soil, green peppercorn, black tea leaf, underbrush, baking spice (like allspice or clove), and oak. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) and somewhat dusty tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $40 average (I paid $30). Very strong value here, particularly if you can find it for around $30 like I did. This is my second time having this wine and it is as impressive as the first. While no doubt young and starting to enter its drinking window, this is both incredibly approachable and capable of going another 5-7 years. Great Old World experience with this wine and a beautiful representation of the terroir.

Burgundian Elegance From… New Zealand?

Today’s Story: Greywacke

Greywacke was established by Kevin and Kimberley Judd in 2009 in the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand. Though Greywacke itself is a young venture, Kevin is deeply rooted in the New Zealand wine world. After studying wine at Roseworthy College in Australia, he moved to New Zealand in 1983 to join Selaks Wines and later moved on to become the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay. After 25 vintages leading Cloudy Bay, Kevin established Greywacke which is named for the layered sandstone and mudstone rocks that can be found throughout New Zealand. Greywacke’s fruit is sourced from vineyards in the central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys, while Kevin makes the wines themselves at Dog Point Winery in the lower Brancott Valley. Though Greywacke focuses on Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, they also release limited quantities of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer.

To learn more about Greywacke and explore their range of wines, visit the website here (also the source of today’s information).

Today’s Wine: 2015 Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 14% ABV

The 2015 Chardonnay is transparent medium yellow in color with gold and slightly greenish hues. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the wine opens to display a nose of white peach, stone fruit, pineapple, matchstick, dill, lightly buttered popcorn, hazelnut, and vanilla. On the palate, we get notes of lemon zest, golden apple, crisp pear, white florals, slate, nuts, smoke, and brioche toast. This is a medium- to full-bodied Chardonnay with medium (+) acidity and a well-rounded mouthfeel leading into a long, mouthwatering finish. An absolutely gorgeous wine, and rather Burgundian in profile.

Price: $28 (typically closer to $40). At the price I paid, I’m very tempted to say this is perhaps the greatest value Chardonnay I’ve purchased to date. The purity and focus in this wine is outstanding for its price point (and well above it), while the Burgundian nature really makes me want to slip this into a blind tasting. Even at $40, this is certainly a wine I would add to my cellar.

High Quality New Zealand Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Fromm Winery

Fromm Winery was established in 1992 by Georg Fromm and winemaker Hätsch Kalberer, with the intent of producing European-styled wines of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. The vineyards and wines are 100% organic, and Fromm believes in allowing the fruit and terroir to speak for themselves rather than being heavy-handed in the cellar. The vineyards are densely planted, they do not use any artificial chemicals, and refrain from irrigating the vineyards so the vines struggle and produce quality, terroir-driven fruit. Though Georg Fromm returned to his native Switzerland in 2008 to tend to his family winery, Fromm Winery today is under the watchful eyes of family friend and owner Pol Lenzinger, co-owner Stephan Walliser, and George Walliser.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Cuvée H Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2017 Cuvée H Pinot Noir is pale to medium ruby in color and translucent. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, strawberry, licorice, forest floor, gravel, mixed herbs, mild baking spice, and vanilla. On the palate, the wine displays notes of plum, pomegranate, wild raspberry, strawberry licorice, lightly smoked game, loamy earth, finely crushed rock, and light oak. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) finish.

Price: $35. This wine offers great QPR, drinking with both quality and depth while coming across quite Burgundian in style. Pair with roasted chicken, Beef Wellington, or quail.

Elegant New Zealand Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Te Whare Ra

Te Whare Ra is a small family-owned winery established in 1979 but under the guide of winemakers Anna and Jason Flowerday since 2003. TWR’s vineyard is one of the oldest in Marlborough and consists of 11 hectares planted to Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Anna and Jason manage their vineyard adhering to organic and biodynamic principles, while also practicing minimal intervention in the cellar. The duo keeps their yields low, all fruit is hand-picked and hand-sorted, no chemicals are used in the vineyards, and the wine is made as naturally as possible with no fining agents, chemical tannins, or chemical yeast nutrients added. TWR is a founding member of Marlborough Natural Winegrowers (MANA) and is certified organic by BIOGRO NZ. To learn more about TWR’s farming and winemaking practices, explore their portfolio, or meet the team (including their cows and dogs), check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Pinot Noir SV5182

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2014 Pinot Noir SV5182 is pale ruby in color and moderately transparent. I simply let this open in the glass for about 30 minutes and the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, raspberry, blue florals, leather, loamy earth, savory herbs, cinnamon, and peppered game. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of blueberry, black raspberry, ripe cherry, spicy plum, tobacco, forest floor, wet stone, dried green herbs, and violet. This Pinot is medium-bodied with medium acidity, fine-grained medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. 129 cases produced.

Price: $40. This is elegant and of superb quality, while also being a fun exploratory wine since I haven’t had much Pinot Noir from New Zealand. The fact that this is a “natural” wine adds another delightful dimension. Pair this with duck breast, pulled pork, or baked chicken.